With icicles clinging to my eyelashes, wind seeking out and creeping through the few tiny gaps in my five layers of clothing like some hellish winter weasel squeezing through a hole in a fence, and my hands burning worse than when I get impatient for squash fresh from the oven to cool, I questioned why I even got out of bed this morning. Why the hell would a person who sits under an electric blanket set to high and swaddles herself in sweatshirts and pj pants fuzzy enough to render baby pandas green with envy venture into the great outdoors of Minnesota on a sixteen degree December morning to walk her dog?
As I risked life and limb (well, fingertips at least) taking off a glove to tie a poop bag shut (dog ownership: it's a glamorous life), I had to remind myself that I know the exact reason I get out of bed in the morning, even if some days "getting up" looks more like "extracting my sorry, exhausted, unmotivated ass from the covers at a sloth-like pace of a few centimeters a minute." I may sometimes lose sight of life's everyday joys and my ultimate goals, but God always sneaks in little reminders. As I fumbled my glove back on, I saw a man loading his little old black lab, outfitted in a striped pink sweater, into the car after their early-morning walk in the park. He gently wiped the dirt and ice from each of her paws with a towel, taking great care not to miss a spot or to overextend her creaky, arthritic joints. Just as he would his own human child, he scooped her up in his arms like an overgrown and abnormally hairy infant (this text changed from "big black baby" after I reread it and my brain's filter sounded the "holy crap that is unintentionally but still glaringly racist" alarm) and gently placed her in the passenger's seat. Before closing the door, he lovingly adjusted her colorful little sweater.
That, my friends, is why I get out of bed in the morning.
That is why I endure the cold every day to take Sport for a walk when good sense would dictate holing up under the covers until Spring; why I left home and came 1,500 miles to Minnesota; why I have spent more hours in the anatomy lab than in my house over the past few months. Love like that is why I chose (and continue to choose, each and every day) animal ownership, veterinary medicine, and all the wonderful, challenging, heartbreaking, and heartwarming experiences that entails.